Portrait of the Artist as a
Young Process Theologian
Open and Relational Spiritual Virtues
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Process Theologian: In the beginning there is the fascination with a new way of looking at the world and God. It seems so promising, as if all questions are answered as soon as we understand how all things are interconnected and God is not a bully in the sky. We might even entertain the hope that, if people would only think as we think, the world would be a much better place. We fall into the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, confusing hope for the world with conformity to our worldview. Truth be told, we want to render the world unto our own image. It's a sin.
But as open and relational theologians mature, we realize that what is most important is not the worldview but the virtues, and that these virtues can be, and have been, cultivated by people in many ways - with help from the great wisdom traditions and with the arts.
Judaism and Islam, Confucianism and Daoism, Buddhism and Platonism can be channels of wisdom, no less than the philosophy of Whitehead. Things change. We ourselves are creatively transformed. We become more interested in fat souls than perfect systems, and come to see process theology as one (but only one way) of encouraging fat souls.
OK…so how Fat Is My Soul?
a somewhat playful way of considering open and relational virtues
Place A, B, C, D, or E next to each characteristic of Fat Soulhood below:
A. I am really pretty good at this.
B. Well, I’m good but not great.
C. Pretty average.
D. Need to grow
E. Kind of resent your asking and it's really none of your business.
Creative: open to new possibilities, able to adapt to new situations, imaginative
Curious: about almost everything: people, molecules, economics, art, frogs, cats, life
Self-Aware: aware of my feelings and values, aware that there is more to life, and even to me, than meets the eye
Compassionate: understand and appreciate feelings of others. A special concern for the vulnerable. A sense of justice for humans and animals.
Dialogical: enjoy the process of seeking truth together, in conversation with others, in spirit of mutual exploration.
Flexible: don't always have to have it "my way"
Generous: more interested in giving than receiving
Knowledgeable: willing to take time to learn bout world affairs and other kinds of things
Objective: can distance myself from prejudices and wishful thinking
Open-minded: enjoy different ideas, able to think in multiple modes:scientific, artistic, mathematical, literary, musical. Enjoy the variety of different points of view.
Principled: can act out of principle rather than the desire always to receive approval.
Delighted by diversity: racial, cultural, religious, philosophical, gender/sexual, political, ecological
Mindful in the present moment: can listen to others without being distracted, stay centered
Tolerant of ambiguity: don’t have to reduce everything to “right” or “wrong," "true" or "false." Can live with tensions
Humble: able to be part of a larger team, alright not being in the spotlight, no need to be noticed all the time
Gritty: can stick to an endeavor, make it through hard times, be courageous and brave.
Grateful: able to appreciate simple gifts, know that most of what I enjoy I did not create, thankful.
Wise: able to look at the big picture, thinking in terms of wholes.
Socially Engaged: actively involved in community life, community development, politics local or regional
Gentle: prefer persuasion over coercion.
Sense of Humor: can laugh at others and self easily
Forgiving: filled with an impulse to forgive others and also yourself